December 2019 TBR: 12 Books before Christmas

Hello December! I wish I could express just how excited I am for this month – Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and this year it will be even more special because I am expecting a baby ANY day now! I can’t wait to see how much better this little Christmas baby makes the holiday season, which for me is already so full of love and family and joy.

BUT… in the back of my mind I still know that I have SO MANY BOOKS that I want to get in before the end of the year. I know that between the holiday craziness and a newborn baby I will DEFINITELY not get to most of the books that I want to, but I’ve picked 12 that I WANT to and feasibly think I CAN read before the end of the month – and as an extra little challenge, I named this post 12 Books before Christmas so that I can hopefully spend the last full week of the year completely enjoying my family without stressing or thinking about any reading goals I have yet to complete 🙂

There’s not much of a rhyme or reason to this TBR, but I have included the 12 books I want to read below with the short blurbs on why!

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia

Why I Want to Read It: These first two books on my list are a little bit of a cheat – I’ve actually finished them both already. (It’s the 4th of the month, and every day counts!!) This is a book that I had seen hyped all over the internet, claiming to be a creepy, sort of hard-hitting post-apocolyptic dystopia novel about a traveling Shakespeare troupe navigating a world whose population has been wiped out by 99.99%. I’ll save my full thoughts for my December wrap-up, but unfortunately this one did not live up to the hype for me!

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: Again, I already have read it – but this had recently been added to my shelves as a thrift store find. I loved both the book and the movie of The Martian by Andy Weir, so I thought this book by him might be worth a try. Again, full thoughts to come, but I was so extremely pleased to find that I loved this one just as much!

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: I have read all three other books by Shari Lapena, including her 2019 release Someone We Know, and to be honest my opinion on her is still up in the air. I believe the three other books I have rated 2, 3, and 4 stars – so I’m hoping this one will help me solidify my thoughts on whether I connect with Shari Lapena’s writing or not!

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is one of my all-time favorite thrillers – I absolutely loved the writing, the story, and the way I was left thinking about it for hours/days/months after finishing it. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book, set to be released in January, and I’m pumped to read more of her writing in this new thriller that I really don’t know anything about.

Title: The Bridge of Little Jeremy
Author: Indrajit Garai
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I was sent a physical copy of this book by a representative of the author in return for a review, based on my feelings about Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I expect this book to similarly be very character-focused and potentially hard-hitting, which I’m excited to get into and share my thoughts about this previously unknown-to-me book and author.

Title: Until We Meet Again
Author: Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger
Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: This one’s an interesting one – this book actually belongs to my husband, who recommended I read it several months ago. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because it seems to be quite out of my comfort zone, but I’d really like to fit it in by the end of the year so that I can relay my thoughts back to him 🙂

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: This year Ruth Ware became one of my favorite thriller authors after reading only one book – The Turn of the Key – and I now want to get to ALL of her backlist titles. I’ve been told that they aren’t as good as her most recent release, but I’d like to make that decision for myself – starting with this one!

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I read The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis early on this year and gave it 4 stars – I really connected with the hard-hitting story, complex characters, and McGinnis’s style of writing. Since this seems to have more of that hard-hitting subject matter, I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this book just as much.

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: You might see a theme here, but I read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere this year and – spoiler alert – it’s ending up in my Top 10 of 2019 (post to come!). This is her only other full-length novel to date, and I can’t wait to dive in (pun intended, see the cover) to this one and hopefully love it as well. A bonus is that it’s pretty short and should be easy to squeeze in!

Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Marisha Pessl is an author that I have not yet explored yet but think that I will really love, based on reviews of her books Night Film and Neverworld Wake. This one I just happened to stumble upon in a thrift store, so I picked it up and would love to prioritize it this month!

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: One more time – I’ve read one book so far by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. That book really surprised me in how much it impacted me by the end, and I hear that that’s what all of his books do. I hope to get to Backman’s entire backlist eventually, but this one by the end of the year will be good enough progress towards that goal for me.

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Gillian Flynn has been hit-or-miss for me with her last two books; I absolutely adored the book and movie of Gone Girl, but then was extremely disappointed in how much I disliked Dark Places. This one will be the tie-breaker – is Gillian Flynn one of my favs, or was Gone Girl an anomoly for me?


Just writing about these books has made me excited all over again to read them – I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books before and what you thought of them. If not, what are you planning on reading in December? I realize now that I have absolutely no seasonal reads, and I’m treating this month more like a catch-up month for my physical TBR – are you planning on reading holiday-themed books for the month instead?

Hope everyone has/is having a wonderful holiday season!


November 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my November TBR post, I revealed my ambitious reading plans for the month that included reading all of the Goodreads Thriller nominees and participating in Tome Topple, Buzzwordathon, and Sci Fi Month. I’m pleasantly surprised with my ability to stick (mostly!) to that original plan and ended up having a great reading month. Below are all of the books I completed along with which readathon/challenge it fulfilled for me. I’d love to know if you read any of the books below or participated in the readathons I mentioned above!

This month’s quick stats:
9 books (3 audiobooks)
2,480 pages
10 authors (7 female)
0 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
101 books (22 audiobooks)
25,969 pages
95 authors (52 female)
24 nonfiction | 77 fiction

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 596
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book tells the story of Kady and Ezra, two teenagers forced to evacuate their home planet (not Earth) and board two different warships in a space battle between powerful space entities. The book is most notable for its unique writing style – the story is told dossier-style through emails, medical reports, memos, IMs, interviews, etc.

My Thoughts: My thoughts on this book are actually a little bit conflicting – on one hand, I absolutely love the multi-media format and thought it added an interesting element to the sci-fi story and made for a fun reading experience. I also really came to enjoy the relationship between the two main characters and found myself rooting hard for them not only to survive but to reconnect with each other in the end. However, that’s where my love for the story ends – the rest of it I actually found to be extremely confusing and boring. It took a long time for me to understand (if I ever did fully understand…) the universe they were in, what had happened in the past, and what they were fighting for in the present. I don’t typically love action movies or books, so I’m not surprised that I didn’t love the action scenes, but I also can’t think of a single OTHER character in the book that I fully knew, understood, or cared for. I do think I would pick up the second book in the series, because again I love the format and do think a lot of work went into building the story, but I’m not rushing out to buy it right this second.

Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a few different perspectives of people living in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys (like ages 7-8) were abducted and killed. The man responsible for the murders has been caught and become known in the town as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside of their windows and whisper creepy things to in the days leading up to their disappearances. Now, 20 years later, the town is reeling because a new little boy has gone missing, and although the people and authorities know it can’t be the Whisper Man because he’s being held in jail, the similarities are eerie and have people wondering if there was an accomplice to the previous murders and if that accomplice could be back, looking for more little boys to abduct and kill.

My Thoughts: The premise of this book is super creepy – I mean, abducted and murdered children is absolutely a topic that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and this book did a good job of building the suspense between the past and the present. Once the initial creepiness wore off, though, I found this mystery a little disappointing in that it didn’t do anything super original or surprising in any way. I would have loved a few more twists or something that would really make this book stand out in my mind, but unfortunately, I think most of the details will fade in my memory and this book will drop far down on my list of good or favorite thrillers.

Title: The Mother-In-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a complicated relationship. They didn’t exactly start off on the right foot, and since then their relationship has consisted of tip-toeing around each other, not exactly outwardly fighting but each knowing that the other isn’t her biggest fan. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone else in the family begins to wonder about secrets within the family and whether the apparent suicide is what it appears to be, or if foul play could be involved.

My Thoughts: I’ll start this review by saying that I absolutely would not consider this book to be a thriller – although there is the mystery element of the murder/suicide, the majority of the story reads like a contemporary or chick-lit book. We get to know the past of the relationship between the mother- and daughter-in-law, plus the upbringings of both and how that affected their family dynamic. I surprisingly enjoyed the story because of these complex relationships and dynamics, and ultimately I was satisfied with the eventual reveal of the mystery. Was it the most thrilling thing I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate a story with many layers and that actually tackles many hard-hitting issues a lot of families may deal with.

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 226
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a young woman named Korede, who frequently gets phone calls from her sister telling her that she accidentally killed her boyfriend and needs help cleaning it up. Korede has gone along with her sister three times now, covering up her mess and her crimes, but now she is conflicted because her sister’s new boyfriend is someone Korede actually has feelings for and doesn’t want to turn up dead – does she try to warn him and risk turning in her sister, or stay silent and risk another deadly accident?

My Thoughts: I’ve definitely seen this book around the Bookternet quite a bit, with reviews that differ greatly. Of the critiques I’ve seen, most say that the writing is chopping, the pacing is off, and the book itself is too short for the plot to fully developed. After finishing the book, I actually didn’t mind any of those things and disliked it for completely different reasons. In my opinion, the story is completely dull and I really hated almost all of the characters. I wasn’t rooting for anyone, I wasn’t scared or shocked by anything in the plotline (I mean, the title is pretty clear on what you can expect), and I didn’t really understand the point of any of the side stories that were thrown in. I wouldn’t say that I regret reading this book, but I’m disappointed after all of the buzz I’ve been seeing about it this year and definitely wouldn’t consider it a top thriller.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 504
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This is the second book in the very popular Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Schusterman, in which we follow characters in a futuristic world where humans have conquered mortality and the only way to die is to be selected and gleaned by a Scythe. Scythes are highly-respected and highly-trained members of the society tasked with gleaning a certain number of people every year in order to keep population under control. Otherwise, the world is a completely perfect and self-sufficient place, thanks to the Thunderhead – an entity based on todays “Cloud” that is all-knowing and all-controlling in terms of managing hunger, income, crime, etc. This second book continues the story of two apprentice scythes from the first book in the series and dives much deeper into the Thunderhead’s role itself.

My Thoughts: I read Scythe, the first book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. I am very happy to say that Thunderhead is a very solid second book that didn’t suffer from “second book syndrome” at all in my opinion. I loved learning more about the world and each of the characters, and the new characters and plot advancements were enough to keep me invested throughout the book and intrigued for the third and final book in the series. This is a must-read for lovers of the dystopian genre!

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This fantasy book is generally about a traveling magical circus that pops up in random locations all over the world and is open to the public from dusk to dawn. When people attend the circus, they are awe-struck by the experience – delicious food and smells, dazzling decorations, and highly entertaining performers everywhere they look. Throughout this story, we get to know the behind-the-scenes members of this circus, including the originator himself and many of the employees and performers who make it all come together, including two young magicians raised in preparation for a competition with each other to determine whose powers are greater.

My Thoughts: I am not a very big fantasy reader, so I knew that it was unlikely that I’d fall head-over-heels in love with this book like everyone else seems to… but after finishing it, I’m actually a little confused by the hype. I will say that the writing is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the descriptions of the circus absolutely make me wish I could go and experience it for myself. But the plot…. Is non-existent? The synopsis makes it sound like there will be a fast-paced, action-packed competition between two magicians, but that is so not what happens, and I found myself both bored and confused as I waited longer and longer for any action to happen. Plus all of the other side characters and stories were a little confusing and also took away from any sort of action. Overall it’s hard to say that I hated it, because I definitely wanted to finish the story, but even harder to say that I loved – or even liked – it. I’d love to hear some feedback from anyone who loves this story – did you go in with different expectations, or did I miss something in the story that made it more impactful?

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book has been described as many things – a fantasy/sci fi/horror gender-bent retelling of Lord of the Flies has been the most common description that I’ve seen. The story follows a group of girls being quarantined on Raxter Island, where they were attending an all-girls school until a mysterious disease broke out and started causing mutations and eventually killing most of the inhabitants. Because nobody knows what the disease is or what is causing it, people on the mainland don’t want to risk it spreading and choose to keep the girls stranded on the island with few resources being shipped over every couple of days to keep the survivors alive until some kind of cure is found. This leaves the girls extremely hungry, scared, and determined to find out more about the island’s inhabitants and history to explain their mysterious situation.

My Thoughts: This book was good – even great at the beginning – but just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. I wanted more time with the characters, more information and background when it came to the setting, and definitely more answers at the end. I really enjoyed the story itself but all of the lingering questions left me unsatisfied and hesitant to recommend it to people who don’t know what they’re getting into.

Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 450
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon

Brief Summary: This contemporary story follows nine individuals as they check in to a 10-day health resort that promises to completely change their lives through mysterious and unconventional measures. The “patients” don’t quite know what to expect, but most are willing to try just about anything to get their lives back on track – something that the staff know well and even use to their advantage at times.

My Thoughts: I have been reading a LOT of thrillers and sci-fi lately, so it was nice to get back into contemporary and just read about characters living their lives – and in this case, trying to improve them. I thought the character development was great – this book is told through over 10 character perspectives, so the fact that I could easily keep all of them straight and actually end up invested and caring about all of them is really impressive. I loved the first half of the story (the slower and arguably more boring half) because I was so interested in each of the characters and intrigued enough in the situation to really want to know how they would all change by the end. The twist(s) that happened throughout the second half seemed unrealistic and unnecessary to me, though, and took away from my enjoyment a bit. I’d recommend this book to people who really enjoy character-driven books almost bordering on character studies, and then say to keep an open mind about where the story may go!

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 351
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster.

My Thoughts: I wouldn’t call this book your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 333
My Rating:  stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon


Although I do wish I could have completed a few more books in November, overall I’m happy with my reading experiences and hopeful that I will finish the year off strong with a good reading month in December. I’d love to know what reading plans you have for the last month of the year!


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards – My Thriller Rankings!

My Original Predictions

If you’re new to my blog or didn’t see my GR Choice Award post from the end of October, I decided this year to take a page out of Booktuber Booksandlala‘s book and read all of the finalists in the Mystery/Thriller category in order to place a fully unbiased vote. Because this is a somewhat daunting task – reading 10 books within the two weeks after the finalists are announced – I decided to make some predictions and get a head start by listing and reading some of the most-hyped thrillers that I’ve seen this year. I’m happy to report that 6 of my predictions actually did end up in the Top 10, and of those I had already read 5 – leaving only 5 more to read within the last two weeks!

The Finalists

Below are the Top 10 Finalists in the Mystery & Thriller category of the Goodreads Choice Awards. I’ve listed them in order of number of rankings on Goodreads, which in my prediction post I also mentioned is most likely the order in which they will get the most votes, ultimately meaning the book with the most ratings will win, regardless of actual average rating. I also included a column to indicate whether each book was in my original predictions list or not.

TitleAuthor# RatingsAvg. RatingPredicted?
The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides166,6474.05Yes
An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen64,0713.84Yes
My Sister, the Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite61,6243.78No
The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware44,8453.99Yes
The Mother-in-LawSally Hepworth37,1904.00No
The Lost ManJane Harper35,6864.21Yes
Lock Every DoorRiley Sager30,1583.99Yes
Run AwayHarlan Coben26,4214.07Yes
The Whisper ManAlex North21,6104.10No
Miracle CreekAngie Kim20,2533.96No

My Rankings

The great news is that I was successful in my goal – I was able to pick up and give every single book on this list a shot. (The bad news? One of them I DNF’d because of how much I disliked it…). So, I feel VERY confident that I am able to place an unbiased vote in this category, which is a really great feeling! Below is MY personal list of rankings of these books, from my LEAST favorite down to my FAVORITE thriller on the list of finalists, and my vote for best mystery/thriller of the year.

10. The Lost Man by Jane Harper
My Rating: 1 star
My Thoughts: This book is about two men whose brother turns up dead in the middle of the Australian desert, and the two remaining brothers are left to solve the mystery of his death. Unfortunately I DNF’d this book near the beginning – I tried reading it in physical form and via audiobook, but I just couldn’t get into the story at all. After reading other reviews of the book, it appears that it’s slow-moving throughout the whole book, and I just didn’t think I could push through.

9. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows a young woman named Korede whose sister has killed three of her past boyfriends and calls on Korede to clean up her messes and help her cover up her crimes. Although this is one of the most-hyped thrillers of the year, I did not enjoy the characters or story at all. I didn’t find anything shocking (thanks to the title, there’s not much to be surprised by) and there is really no mystery being solved, either. Very disappointing!

8. The Whisper Man by Alex North
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book is set in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys were abducted and killed by a man known as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside their windows and whisper creepy things in the nights leading up to their disappearances. I thought the premise of this book was very adequately creepy, but ultimately the mystery was pretty unsurprising and unoriginal. I would have loved a few more twists to help the story stand out in my memory a little more!

7. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: I REALLY wanted to like this book, which is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing, but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life after she becomes more involved in the study and the psychologist running it. I was really intrigued by the unique format that this story is told (two different perspectives, one of them told in second-person), but I soon grew bored with it and found myself not caring at all what happened to the characters.

6. Run Away by Harlan Coben
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd in college, dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his missing daughter. I’m not exactly sure why, but this thriller felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It took a little while to get into, but once I was well into the book, things started clicking and I actually found myself pretty invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, and although not life-changing or a new favorite, this book was a pleasant surprise and a solid read for me.

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This was a VERY popular thriller this year, about a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. The firt half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about 3/4 of the way through the book, I had some theories that ultimately ended up being correct, which did take away from some of the enjoyment of the ending for me. But, I do very much understand the hype of this book and why so many people have considered it their favorite thriller of the year.

4. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a rocky relationship. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone in the family begins to wonder about what secrets everyone else has been hiding. Although I actually wouldn’t consider this book a thriller, and the mystery aspect is a little weak, I surprisingly still enjoyed the story because of the complex character dynamics. Was it the most exciting book I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate that it had many layers and the little mystery it did have was wrapped up nicely.

3. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster. I wouldn’t call it your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller this year, this book follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Soon after starting, she starts to notice weird and creepy things about the apartment’s occupants and the building itself, making her question whether the arrangement is too good to be true. This one definitely lived up to all of its hype – the atmosphere is just so creepy and intriguing and the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Most people either love or hate the big twist/reveal at the end, but I definitely fall on the love side and think that Riley Sager really can do no wrong at this point.

1. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
My Rating: 5 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family to be a nanny caring for the three children living at home. Told in letter-form, after-the-fact, the story is told from Rowan’s perspective as she tries to defend herself from the murder of one of the children. So many bloggers and Booktubers are calling this book the perfect thriller, and I have to agree – I loved everything about it. The writing and atmosphere are so well-done, and I truly did not know which direction the mystery was going to go. If you have not read this book and are looking to pick up one thriller from this year, I think this is the one to choose.


So clearly, my pick for best thriller is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware! Again, I thought it was really enjoyable to read all of these thrillers throughout the last couple of months and be able to place my vote having read (or tried to read) every single book on the list.

I’d love to know if anyone else tried this challenge this year, but even if not – which book did you vote for in the Goodreads Choice Awards?


October 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my October TBR post, I said that this month was ALLLLL about the thrillers. And it totally was. I ended up reading 15 books in October, 12 of which were mystery/thrillers, and 12 of which I’m predicting could end up on the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery & Thriller nominee list (see those predictions here). I’m super proud of meeting my reading goals this month and pleasantly surprised with how many books I loved – I’d definitely say I found myself some new favorite thrillers this month!

I typically wrap up my reading in chronological order of how I read the books, but this time I think I will start with all of my thrillers, ordered from favorite to least favorite, and then into the non-thrillers at the end.

This month’s quick stats:
15 books (4 audiobooks)
3,657 pages
15 authors (8 female)
1 nonfiction | 14 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
92 books (19 audiobooks)
23,489 pages
86 authors (45 female)
24 nonfiction | 68 fiction

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 314
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman named Lowen who is hired as a writer to complete the remaining books in a series started by a famous author, Verity Crawford, who suffered an accident that has left her unable to finish her work. In order to perform this job, Lowen agrees to move into the Crawford household for a short period in order to sort through Verity’s office to find any notes on the series that may have been previously prepared. Spending so much time in Verity’s home and going through her things, Lowen starts to uncover much more about Verity than she ever bargained for – and that’s really all I want to say about the plot!

My Thoughts: I was so, so, so pleasantly surprised by this book – I couldn’t put it down! It feels weird to say that I enjoyed reading it, because some parts are so messed up that enjoyment is not quite the right word, but I was completely immersed. Everything from the basic plot to the characters to the pacing I thought was done perfectly, and I personally loved the ending. I do consider it to be a thriller and think it’s a little odd that people are arguing that it’s not… but as a Colleen Hoover rookie I can’t speak to how different it is from her other books. All I can say is that I was on the edge of my seat reading this book and if Colleen Hoover wants to continue dabbling in the thriller world, I will continue to read.

Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family as a nanny caring for the three children living at home. The story is actually told in letter-form, after-the-fact, as it is known by the reader that Rowan has been charged for the murder of one of the children, and she is recounting the experience from the beginning to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts: I’m sure most people at this point have heard of this book and all of the hype that surrounds it – so many book bloggers and Booktubers are calling it the perfect thriller, and I actually would have to agree. The writing and atmosphere of this book are so well done, I truly did not know which direction the story was headed and what the solution to the mystery was going to end up being. I listened to the audiobook and would highly recommend – not only did it help immerse me fully into the story, it also helped me speed through the book as quickly as possible since I was so interested to get to the ending!

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 370
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This is the second thriller novel written by Riley Sager, and it follows young woman Emma as she returns to the same summer camp that she last attended when she was 15 years old. Her first time at the camp, Emma’s three bunkmates went missing, were never found, and caused the camp to be shut down due to safety concerns for the campers. 15 years later, the camp is reopening and Emma goes back as an instructor with hopes of getting closure for her three friends lost all those years ago.

My Thoughts: I feel like this book has been SEVERELY underhyped compared to Riley Sager’s other two thrillers, and I have to say that this one is by far my favorite. I absolutely loved the fun and creepy setting of the summer camp and thought that the mystery, twists, and reveals were smart and ultimately shocking – at least to me. I felt fully invested in the story and characters and was itching to get to the end so I could get some answers. Although there was one MAJOR plot hole that I noticed (would love to discuss with others that have read it 😊), I honestly enjoyed the book so much that I’m willing to overlook it and still give it a 5-star rating.

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller, Riley Sager’s latest release, follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan for six weeks. Although the apartment building is creepy and the job comes with some odd ground rules, the pay is so good that Jules can’t possibly turn the opportunity down. Soon after starting, however, she starts to notice weird things about the apartment and other tenants in the building and questions whether the arrangement is too good to be true.

My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller that actually lived up to the hype for me. The atmosphere was just as creepy and intriguing as everyone has said, and I think the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Unfortunately, my reading experience was tainted JUST SLIGHTLY due to the fact that I knowingly spoiled the ending for myself before picking the book up. I think the ending really would have shocked me if I didn’t know what was going on going in, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and am already looking forward to Riley Sager’s 2020 release.

Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 323
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told in two perspectives – one is from Theo, a psychotherapist who is interested in treating Alicia Berenson, a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. Theo believes he can get her to speak and finally shed some light on the tragedy, what happened, and whether Alicia is truly guilty of the crime. The second perspective is from Alicia, told through the journal entries she wrote recounting her life and relationship with her husband several months leading up to the incident.

My Thoughts: I went into this book pretty much completely blind to the synopsis, and I’m really glad I did. The first half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about ¾ of the way through the book, I had formed some theories, some of which turned out to be correct. I don’t consider myself a great mystery-solver, nor do I usually try to guess the endings of books, but for this one I just so happened to do so and unfortunately it did take some of the satisfaction out of it for me. I still think it’s a good thriller, and understand why so many people have read and loved it, but ultimately not my favorite of the month.

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd after her college experience didn’t quite go according to plan. She is dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his daughter, navigating the dark world of drugs and dangerous men that he can’t believe his daughter has been involved with.

My Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure why, but this book felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It could be because I’m unfamiliar with the author, or I’m unfamiliar with following a middle-aged man instead of a 20-something young woman, but something in the tone of this book I felt difficult to connect with, especially at the beginning. But I pushed through (thanks to the audiobook), and about halfway through things started clicking and I finally started to feel invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, thought the mystery was smart and well-revealed, and although I don’t think I found a new favorite author or thriller, am satisfied with the read.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 329
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows high-schooler Ellery as she and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge, a small town that their mother grew up in and their aunt went missing from at age 17. Soon after arrival, one of the teachers at the high school turns up dead and a public threat is made by an anonymous person that one of the homecoming queen nominees will be next, and the entire town is left fearing for the safety of themselves and everyone around them.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t have too much to say about this book… YA thrillers are not my favorite to begin with, and this one didn’t do anything particularly special to stand out in my mind. I wouldn’t say that anything about it was bad – I actually think the ending was pretty good – but the plot

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life. Although she doesn’t think she is in any immediate danger, she starts to question the motives of the individual running the study and wondering if the payment, although generous, is worth having her own morality scrutinized in such detail.

My Thoughts: I wanted to like this book, and for the first half I was intrigued by the unique format of the story, but ultimately I grew bored with it and found myself not caring what happened to the characters. I think that I’ll soon forget most of the details of the book, which to me is a big indicator that it didn’t resonate or impact me much at all.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 292
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a domestic thriller following several members of a neighborhood with lots of secrets. When one of the women turns up dead, everyone starts pointing fingers and wondering if they can trust their neighbors, friends, and even own family.

My Thoughts: Ugh… the more I think about this book, the more upset I get about it – 3 stars might be generous. I think the writing is good – Shari Lapena knows how to write in a way to keep you turning the pages – and the mystery is fairly well-crafted…. but there is just so much cheating and lying that it totally goes out of the realm of possibility for me. Not every married person is having an affair and has a burner phone, so it’s annoying when every character in a book is/does. It actually made the ending far less shocking to me, because every person was made out to look shady and had a motive for being the murderer.

Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This novel is about Luke Ellis, a young boy who is kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought to “The Institute,” a compound where several kids are being held captive and studied for their apparent telekinetic or telepathic abilities.

My Thoughts: Although the synopsis of this book sounds right up my alley, I was super disappointed by this book. I really didn’t get much of a thriller/horror vibe at all – much more of a dystopia/action-type book, but even so I found it to be pretty below average. Not only did I not feel any suspense or pull to the characters and their well-being, but I also found the plot as a whole to be unoriginal and the ending extremely unsatisfying.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 374
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is said to be “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith” – it follows a married couple who, 15 years into their relationship, gets bored and decides to start murdering people to keep their spark alive.  

My Thoughts: This thriller, although very well-loved in the book community, was just not for me. I found the first 300 pages just flat-out boring, and by the time things actually got interesting, it all happened and wrapped up way too quickly. I completely understand and agree with the comparison to Dexter – I personally didn’t enjoy that show either, so it’s clearly something with me not caring to watch/read from the serial killer’s perspective!

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 383
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about J, a boy who has been raised for his entire life in a single building along with 25 other boys without the knowledge or influence of the female gender. A couple of miles away, the very same experiment is being done on a set of 26 girls raised without ever coming into contact with a male. As the kids grow older, some of them start to ask questions and the experiment authorities start to fear failure of the experiment they’ve been working so long to keep intact.

My Thoughts: Again, the premise of this book sounds just like something I would love, but I found myself completely underwhelmed by the execution. I would not consider it to be a horror or thriller in any capacity, as there was no suspense or thrill in the entire first 300 pages. The last bit of the book, although action-packed, didn’t have me invested enough to care about the outcome.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 326
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This sci-fi book is all about memories. We follow two different individuals, the first being Barry, a New York City cop investigating a new disorder showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome, where sufferer’s minds are suddenly infiltrated by memories of entire lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually resort to killing themselves to make the false memories stop. The other main character is Helena, a researcher studying the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and working on a solution to allow those suffering to preserve memories to be revisited later, when memory loss causes them to forget the most precious people and moments in their lives.

My Thoughts: I love love love Blake Crouch’s sci-fi writing. I loved Dark Matter when I read it earlier this year, and I think I loved this one even more because of how much I enjoyed the characters themselves. I really appreciate how Blake Crouch’s plots and science elements are just enough to keep your mind reeling, but not too much so that you feel lost or stupid for not fully understanding (it is still fiction, after all). This book doesn’t necessarily have much more twists and turns, so I wouldn’t call it a mystery/thriller, but that’s not what I wanted out of it so I was completely satisfied with the story and complex journey that these characters were on. Highly recommend to fans of Dark Matter, highly don’t recommend to anyone who didn’t care for that book – I found them to be very similar in a lot of ways.

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 455
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows several different members of a community impacted by a school shooting. It dives into all of the characters’ (including the shooter himself) relationships, upbringings, and understandings of the world both before and after the incident, revealing insights and asking questions about humanity at its core.

My Thoughts: This is definitely a tough book to review because of its highly sensitive subject matter, but I have to say that I appreciate the intent of this book to show that everybody’s life is complex – whether you’re a popular kid, a well-established working adult, a loner, or someone in-between, everyone has highs and lows that no one else can possibly understand. With that, everyone – even a “monster” capable of shooting another human – has loved ones and redeeming human qualities, too. Not every issue is black and white, and not every person can be tagged as good or evil. Outside of the hard-hitting stuff, I found his book to be pretty entertaining but maybe a bit too long. It switches between character perspectives and timelines often, which was sometimes hard to keep straight, and I didn’t love the ending, but again it’s hard to say that this book is overall good or bad when its intent seems to be just to get you to think a little deeper about things you may judge prematurely.

Title: Through a Daughter’s Eyes
Author: Mary DeJong
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 123
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book goes back and forth between memories and written accounts of the author’s life watching her father battle cancer. It captures some of her happiest memories, playing basketball with her dad and playing at the park with her best friends, and some of her worst, getting the news that her dad has passed away and standing at her father’s funeral as a middle-school student.  

My Thoughts: Full disclosure, this is absolutely a biased review as I went to high school with the author of this book and know the community that was impacted by this loss. But with that, I think that this book is as emotional and powerful as it gets, even for being so short in length. I loved the format and getting the different timelines and perspectives and was totally immersed. I feel like after reading this book I’ve been given some new perspective on family and life and really appreciate that.


I’m extremely happy with the reading I got done in October, and I’m happy to say that I still feel motivated going into November – which is good, considering my ambitious November TBR. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books above or what your reading plans are for November – we’re getting down to crunch time for finishing everything we want by the end of the year!!


November 2019 TBR: Readathons on Readathons!

Man oh man, I thought I was setting myself up for a busy reading month in October (see my TBR here and get ready for my wrap-up on Friday!)… but when setting up my November reading schedule, I realized that November is going to be even crazier! There are a whole bunch of challenges and readathons I want to participate in, so the most logical way for me to get to everything is to organize my month by weeks and have a different theme/challenge/readathon to focus on for that week. I’m super excited for all of these titles and really hoping I can keep my motivation up to finish all of them. I’d love some encouragement (or… commiseration? 😊) so if any of you are planning on participating in these readathons too, please let me know!!

Week One (Nov. 1-8): Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees

The Goodreads Choice Awards are coming (I thought yesterday, but I guess I was wrong! But likely sometime in the next couple weeks), and I’d like to read all of the books nominated for the Mystery & Thriller category. I made some predictions earlier this week (see them here!) and I plan to spend the first week of November finishing off that list, as well as revising and reading the books that are ACTUALLY nominated once those come out. And, yes – this idea is heavily influenced by Booktuber Booksandlala – my queen. Can you blame me? The exact number of books I want to get to depends on how many of my predictions end up being correct… but my goal is somewhere between 3 and 5 books within the first 8 days of the month. Below are some that I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to!

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Although I haven’t read from this author before, I’ve seen several good things about him and this book floating around the bookternet. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be about a woman who starts to suspect her husband has something to do with an unsolved murder that happened in their town a couple of years ago.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

This latest release from Shari Lapena is, I believe, her 4th thriller, and so far I have read her first 2. Although neither have been 5 stars, I’m excited to give her another chance. I have heard that this book is about a small town in which everyone has secrets and wants to know everything about everyone else, but I don’t know much more of the plot than that!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This is a book that I certainly would not have planned to pick up had it not showed up in my research as a highly-rated, highly read thriller likely to be nominated for the GR Choice Awards. According to Goodreads, this book appears to follow two brothers trying to find out the truth about the death of their third brother.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Again, another book and author I likely would not have discovered if not for being nominated for GR awards in the past. Like Shari Lapena’s, this book also seems to follow a small-town neighborhood made up of nosey individuals trying to uncover everyone’s secrets.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

This last one I’m not sure completely fits in the thriller category, as I’ve heard it more commonly described as a fantastical horror-type novel. But it has been extremely hyped, so nonetheless I’d love to read it even with the outside chance that it ends up as a nominee. I’m sure most people have heard of it, but the general plot seems to follow a group of young girls being held on an island as some kind of virus infects them and starts mutilating their bodies in horrific ways.

Week Two (Nov. 9-17): Tome Topple

This is a new-to-me readathon with the main focus being to read books with 500+ pages. The readathon is hosted by Booktuber Thoughts on Tomes – see her announcement video here for more details (including the actual dates of the readathon, which are the 9th to the 22nd!). I have several books on my owned TBR that fit this main goal, but I’d love to get to two or three within the nine days.

Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

This is the second book in the wildly popular Arc of a Scythe series, a dystopian series about humans living in a futuristic world where death no longer occurs naturally. Death only comes to those who are selected by scythes themselves, highly-respected members of society who are trained to glean a certain number of people every year as a means of population control. I absolutely loved Book 1 of this series (Scythe) and am very excited to finally get to Book 2 (Thunderhead) and then eventually to Book 3 (The Toll), which is being released on November 5th!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This is a book that I have seen so many great reviews for yet know so little about that I don’t even want to know the basic plot before starting it. As far as I know, it is a thriller with some pretty dark/messed up topics, and I’m so excited to dive into it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

On a very different note, Carry On is a novel said to be sort of a retelling of Harry Potter in which Harry and Draco end up in a relationship. It sounds fun and creative and I’ve seen so much love for this book floating around that even though it’s out of my comfort zone a little, I’m excited to give it a try.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

You may be sensing a theme here, but this is another beloved book in the online community that I want to experience for myself. This historical fiction novel is set in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl who becomes, quite literally, a book thief, stealing books and exposing herself to worlds outside of her own, potentially offering hope in a time and place that is so hopeless for her in real life.

Week Three (Nov. 18-24): Buzzwordathon

And then comes one of my favorite readathons, Buzzwordathon. This is hosted by Booktuber BooksandLala (mentioning her twice in one post, clearly she is my fav!) – see her announcement video for this round of the readathon here! This readathon always features a buzzword (or a set of buzzwords) with the goal being to read as many books with that word/those words in the title as possible. This round, she has announced the set of buzzwords to be numbers – any form of any number in the title counts. Again, I have several books on my owned TBR that fit, but I think three to four is a reasonable number to strive to complete within the week.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

At the top of my Buzzwordathon priority list is this post-apocalyptic novel about a group of Hollywood actors trying to survive civilization’s collapse.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This is (I believe) a contemporary novel about nine strangers who are at a health resort and whose lives (I’m assuming) start to interweave. I’ve only read one other book by Liane Moriarty, and I’ve seen mixed reviews about most of her works. So this could be a great experience or a very bad one. Either way, I’m excited to get it off my TBR list!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This classic novel is set during WWII and follows an American bomber during his experiences overseas trying to stay alive and ultimately make his way back home. I think I’ve tried reading this book before and found it hard to get through, so I’m hoping this time my experience is a little better and a little easier, since this book is so iconic in literature.

Million-Dollar Throw by Jim Lupica

This book actually belongs to my husband… but because it sits on my shelf, I have a weird thing about wanting to actually read it so that I can eventually have read all of our owned titles. I have no idea what it’s about (other than football, obviously) or if I’ll like it, but it is fairly short so I should be able to easily knock it out!

Week Four (Nov. 25-30): Sci Fi Month

Lastly, it was brought to my attention that November is Sci Fi Month as denoted by blogger OneMore.org. This is definitely self-explanatory, but the focus of this reading challenge is to read as many Science Fiction novels and consume as much Sci Fi content (in any format – tv shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) throughout the month. Although I’d love to dedicate the entire month to that theme, I feel most comfortable committing the last week of the month catching up on any Sci Fi books I still have on my shelves by the end of the month. I’d love to finish two within the five days I’ve allotted.

Artemis by Andy Weir

I just recently got my hands on this book and am super excited to get into it. I loved Andy Weir’s most popular book, The Martian, and because this book looks to be pretty similar in the space/sciency realm, I’m hoping I enjoy it just as much.

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

This book is super intriguing, not only because of its hype on the internet but also because of the format of the book itself. It looks to be made up of mixed media: computer files, emails/messages, and other miscellaneous text types to make up a very uniquely-told sci fi story.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This book seems to be about a group of people leaving Earth for a new civilization and their experiences on the journey itself. I’ve heard that it’s suprisingly emotional, and I’m excited for that dynamic in a science fiction novel, as most tend to be more action-based than character-based.

And that is it for my (slightly crazy) November reading plans. For some, it might feel overly-structured, but for me it puts my mind at ease to have a little bit of a plan going in with some room for adjustment based on my mood any given week. Plus, this is possibly my last serious reading month of the year – in December I’m expecting to have a baby, and we all know that will seriously derail any reading plans I try to set for myself 😊

Again, I’d love to know who else is participating in any of these readathons or what your November reading plans are in general. Anyone else feel like they have a ton of books to cram in before the end of the year?


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Thriller Predictions

You know what time of the year it is…. Goodreads Choice Award time! If I’m not mistaken, I believe the nominees for the 2019 GR Choice Awards will be announced tomorrow, with multiple voting rounds going on until winners are announced in early December.

This year I thought it would be super fun to take a page out of Booksandlala‘s book (AKA my favorite Booktuber, check her out if like Booktube videos and somehow haven’t found her already!) and read all of the nominees in the Mystery & Thriller category.

However, me being me, I had to take it one step further and try to get a little head start by predicting the books that I think will be nominated and ultimately win the category. I wanted to release this list today, so that when nominees are announced tomorrow I can see how many I got correct and how many I missed 🙂

So read on if you’re interested in my predictions, my rationale for selecting them, and my ratings & rankings for the ones I have already read.

How the Awards Work

For those not familiar with the Goodreads Choice Awards in general, I thought I’d briefly explain the awards and voting schedule.

The Goodreads Choice Awards are a set of popular-vote book awards voted on by the users of the Goodreads app/website. The awards are separated by category, most of them being genre-related (Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, etc.), with some additional categories including Debut Author and Best of the Best. 2019 will be the 10th year of the awards, and the categories seem to change slightly from year-to-year. There are a number of rules for what books can be nominated for the awards, which I was easily able to find on the Goodreads website, but the major criteria are that the books must have been released between November 16, 2018 and November 15, 2019, books can be nominated for only one genre category, and opening round nominees must have an average rating of 3.5 or higher (although write-in votes can have any rating).

The Opening Round of the awards typically starts on the last Tuesday of October (this year will be tomorrow, October 29th) and lasts for 6 days. It consists of 15 nominees selected by Goodreads based on titles shelved under each category, average rating, and number of ratings. Voters can vote for any of the 15 nominees OR write in a vote for any book of their choosing.

The Semifinal Round begins the following Tuesday (November 5th this year) and lasts for 6 more days. It consists of the 15 original nominees plus the 5 most-written-in titles to make up a list of 20 nominees. Voters can vote for any of the 20 nominees on the list.

The Final Round of voting begins the following Tuesday (November 12th) and last for 14 days. This round consists of the top 10 nominees determined by the Semifinal Round. Voters can vote for any of these top 10 books.

And finally, the winners for each category of the Goodreads Choice Awards are announed on the first Tuesday of December, which this year falls on December 3rd.

My Mystery & Thriller Predictions

As I mentioned, the selection process for opening-round nominees is slightly unclear, but we do know it involves a book’s average rating, its number of total ratings, and the genre that it is shelved most commonly as. With this information, I went in and looked up all of the thrillers I could find and think of and listed them based on number of ratings. I also made sure to look at authors with books previously nominated for this award because repeat nominations (for authors with new books) is common. Filtering out books with an average rating of less than 3.5, below is my predicted Top 15/Opening Round nominees.

#TitleAuthor# of RatingsAvg RatingPub Date
1The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides148,9714.05Feb 2019
2VerityColleen Hoover61,4424.37Dec 2018
3An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen60,7053.85Jan 2019
4The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware35,6354.00Sep 2019
5RecursionBlake Crouch34,5454.21Jun 2019
6The Lost ManJane Harper33,7844.21Feb 2019
7Watching YouLisa Jewell31,7923.95Dec 2018
8My Lovely WifeSamantha Downing31,6013.92Mar 2019
9The InstituteStephen King27,6754.27Sep 2019
10Lock Every DoorRiley Sager26,2144.01Jul 2019
11Two Can Keep a SecretKaren M. McManus25,1693.98Jan 2019
12Run AwayHarlan Coben24,6504.08Mar 2019
13Before She Knew HimPeter Swanson20,1353.84Mar 2019
14The Last House GuestMegan Miranda17,1383.59Jun 2019
15The Night Olivia FellChristina McDonald12,1913.89Feb 2019

And some titles I think might come up as write-ins:

16Someone We KnowShari Lapena11,6583.98Jul 2019
17Wilder GirlsRory Power10,7143.66Jul 2019
18I Know Who You AreAlice Feeney9,8863.41May 2019
19The Night BeforeWendy Walker6,6163.69May 2019
20The Family UpstairsLisa Jewell4,0464.18Aug 2019
21The NannyGilly MacMillan3,2773.81Sep 2019
22InspectionJosh Malerman2,8593.45Mar 2019

My Pick/Ratings So Far

Of the 22 books I listed above, I have read 11. Below is my personal ranked list of these titles from my favorite to least favorite – tune into my October wrap-up in a couple of days for some more in-depth thoughts of almost all of them!

  1. Verity – Colleen Hoover – 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this book’s premise and execution – very suspenseful, great twist and ending!
  2. The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware – 5 stars
    Super atmospheric and suspenseful, enjoyed the mystery and characters, satisfying ending.
  3. Lock Every Door – Riley Sager – 4 stars
    Also super atmospheric and suspenseful, I enjoyed the reveals even though I spoiled this book for myself!
  4. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides – 3 stars
    Amazing premise, loved the format, first half of book was 5 stars but twist was predictable and ending unsatisfying.
  5. Run Away – Harlan Coben – 3 stars
    Took a while to get into, overall good mystery and satisfying ending.
  6. The Last House Guest – Megan Miranda – 3 stars
    Easy read, pretty good twist and reaveals, ultimately forgettable.
  7. Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManus – 3 stars
    Quick read, nothing outstanding, YA thrillers are generally not my favorite and this one followed that trend.
  8. An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – 3 stars
    Intriguing beginning but grew bored with the storyline, not surprised by the twists, not invested in the characters by the end.
  9. The Institute – Stephen King – 2 stars
    Very long, not suspenseful in my opinion, underwhelming ending.
  10. My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing – 2 stars
    Did not find the serial killer perspective interesting, not suspenseful at all, not invested in characters.
  11. Inspection – Josh Malerman – 2 stars
    Great premise but had some weird focuses/tangents, not suspenseful, action came too late in the story for me to feel invested.

But with that, my predicted winner is overwhelmingly The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Lala does a really great job in her video from last year explaining that the winner of these awards is almost never the book with the highest rating on the nominee list – it is usually the book with the most ratings – and The Silent Patient is far and away the most-rated book on the list. I can’t wait to find out if my predictions are correct!


I would love to hear some additional opinions on this topic – are you a fan of the Goodreads Choice Awards, do you have any predictions for nominees or winners, and have you read any of the books on my prediction list?

I plan to post some updates throughout the voting periods following the nominees and trying to read any that I have not yet read. Also let me know if you want to join me in that challenge!


Spookathon 2019 TBR

In my October TBR post, I announced that I want to read ALL THE THRILLERS this month 😊 okay, not all of them, but a lot of them. I had 10 on my initial list, and hoping to get to even more than that if I can.

What better time to participate in a spooky readathon to motivate me to keep chugging through that list? Below are the challenges created by Booktuber Booksandlala, who created and is hosting Spookathon from October 14th-20th. The overarching goal is to read as many thrillers as possible throughout that week, but there are 5 specific challenges to also hit:

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with red on the cover
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
  4. Read a book with a spooky setting
  5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read

My TBR right now consists of 3 books, which I can double up to make hit all of the challenges. I really like to go into my thrillers blind, so instead of any type of synopsis I’ll just share what I DO know about the books (if anything) and a short explanation on how they complete the challenges.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Challenges Hit: 1, 2, 3

I know close to nothing about this book, but have seen it floating around the bookternet enough for it to have made its way onto my TBR – bonus that it hits 3 challenges as a thriller with red words and the spooky word “secret” in the title!

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Challenges Hit: 1, 4

I am so excited to finally get to read this book! I have recently read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s other two thrillers and have heard that this one is even better. This takes place in a big, creepy apartment building, fulfilling the spooky setting challenge #4!

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Challenges Hit: 1, 5

This is the book I know the least about – I consider it to fill challenge #5 because this is an author I have never heard of and never would have picked up without having previously done research on books that have a chance to be nominated for Goodread’s Thriller category in about a month.


I’d love to know who else is participating in Spookathon this year and what’s on your TBR! Or, have you read any of these three books?